The Chicago Business Barometer remained in contraction for the ninth month, declining 1.1 points in March to 47.8.
New orders fell 7.9 percent while production slipped back into contraction. Order backlogs rose to their highest level since December 2019.
“While some firms reported a rise in orders due to stockpiling by U.S. customers, others noted a fall in new business due to COVID-19,” said the MNI indicators.
Inventories were depleted in March, slipping to the lowest level since October 2009. Supplier deliveries surged in March to their highest level since November 2018. Firms noted delivery delays from China and other oversea sources.
Business sentiment rose only slightly in the March report. About 40 percent of firms expect the level of new orders in three months to be unchanged, 31 percent expect a decline and 28.6 percent anticipate an increase during the second quarter.
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